It started while I thumbed through Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round by Marisa McClellan.
By ANDREA SHORES
A friend bought the book for me as a gift and I quickly realized why she did — it’s the perfect cookbook if preserving food for one or two people. And that was when I came across McClellan’s recipe for Chunky Tomatillo Salsa.
I can’t say it was the first time I read about tomatillos. I knew they were the base for most green sauces, such as Salsa Verde, that hail from Latin America. But I did only recently fall in love with the small, green tomato-like fruits with a husk.
At the time I remembered seeing tomatillos at the farmers’ market, so the next week I loaded up.
And after my first batch of this vibrant, garlicky and sometimes spicy salsa, I returned to market every week thereafter and bought every quart or pint any farmer who sold it had.
I make it fresh, which is when it’s best, and when it came closer to the end of tomatillo season I preserve it to stock in my pantry.
The fresh salsa is my favorite. But I find the preserved tomatillo salsa, which requires cooking before canning, perfect as an enchilada sauce to satisfy winter cravings.
The following recipe for my Salsa Verde is an adaptation of McClellan’s recipe from the book. And I can’t stress — if you have an oven, a baking sheet and a blender — how easy it is. How many peppers and garlic cloves depends on preference.
1 quart tomatillos, husks removed and washed
1-2 jalapenos, or other hot pepper, stem removed
1 small-to-medium white onion, finely chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
Turn on broiler and place oven rack a few inches below the top-heating element. Spread tomatillos and jalapenos on a foil-lined baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the oven on the top rack and broil until tomatillos and jalapeno start to char and blister, turning once to blister all sides.
Remove tomatillos and jalapeno from the oven and transfer them into a blender. Make sure to transfer any juices from the pan to the blender if possible. Blend tomatillos and jalapenos, seeds and all, until smooth like salsa.
Place in a bowl and stir in onion and garlic. To maintain that fresh, vibrant flavor I don’t cook the onion and garlic, but I do add it to the salsa when hot to slightly take the edge off.
I make big batches at a time and snack on the Salsa Verde with tortilla chips or use it as an accompaniment to nachos and burritos.
But my favorite dish to make with Salsa Verde is chilaquiles. I cut flour tortillas into triangles, coat with vegetable oil, sprinkle with salt, and bake at 350 degrees until crisp and slightly browned.
Heat some Salsa Verde, top the chips with it, and place an over-easy egg on top. Drizzle with sour cream or queso fresco and you have a great breakfast or a quick dinner.
Raised by generations of cooks, farmers and green thumbs, Andrea Shores is an enthusiastic eater and curious cook. She loves sharing her passion for local food by telling farmers’ and food purveyors’ stories.